If you’re looking to amp up your skincare routine, the best handheld light therapy devices can help. From managing acne to plumping skin, these at-home — and non-invasive — devices might even save you a trip to the dermatologist’s office.
To learn more about what to look for in these luminous tools, Bustle touched base with board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, Dr. Michele Green, MD.
A Guide To LED Colors
Since these devices come with different LED light offerings, Dr. Green advised on what each LED light color does best.
- Red: Red can help calm inflammation and redness, but perhaps what it's best known for is its ability to revitalize skin. Dr. Green says this type of LED light, "stimulates collagen by activating the fibroblast within the skin cells," which can lead to plumper, healthier skin. It’s also interesting to know that the longer a color’s wavelength, the deeper it penetrates the skin. Red has the longest wavelength of all visible light, making it capable of working deep beneath the skin.
- Blue: Blue light can help treat acne, and according to Dr. Green, "The blue LED is known to reduce bacteria reducing the number of breakouts."
- Green: Dr. Green points out that green LED light "is used to correct hyperpigmentation and calm the skin."
Safety Is Key
For your safety, look for devices that have been vetted. "FDA clearance [or] approval for any device is best, as it shows the company did studies and research and has data to support the efficacy and safety of the product and their technology," Dr. Green says. "Consumers should, however, contact their dermatologist for guidance on any product before purchasing for at-home use."
Other helpful safety features include auto shutoff and timers to help ensure you're not over-doing it. Safety goggles are often included as well, since these can help protect your eyes from harsh LED lights.
With all that in mind, it's time to check out the best handheld LED light therapy devices on Amazon. There's an option for every budget and skincare need.
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1. The Best Red Light Therapy Device
Like my first pick, Pulsaderm's Red LED Light Therapy Device is perfect for people looking to improve skin texture or who is seeking that coveted "healthy glow," but it comes with a much more budget-friendly price tag. Safety-wise it's a winner too: it's FDA-cleared, it automatically shuts off after each three minute spot treatment, and it comes with safety goggles. To use, the brand suggests three minute spot treatments three times a week, on freshly-cleaned skin.
A helpful review: “I use this every other day. I use a green tea lotion and then use this. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to help their skin. I have pictures of before and after. I can see a difference and I am pleased. The skin on my face is smoother and better. I will continue using this."
2. The Best Blue Light Therapy Device
This light therapy device by LightStim is FDA-cleared for to treat mild to moderate acne. Using a patented technology, it emits multiple wavelengths of both red and blue lights to help destroy acne-causing bacteria and clear up existing breakouts in order to give you visibly improved, healthy-looking skin. It won the American Spa Professional’s Choice Award for favorite laser and light manufacturer of 2017, and it's a favorite of beauty editors and dermatologists alike.
You can use this device five to seven days a week, and it takes only three minutes per facial area. It comes with a 30 minute automatic shut-off for safety. The brand also makes a red light version for plumping your skin and one to help reduce joint pain.
Additionally, this pick comes with a beauty bag that comes packed with safety goggles and a complimentary facial serum.
A helpful review: “This amazing gadget has basically eradicated my persistent adult acne. I've been using it religiously for a little over a month now, and I'm down to now 0-1 active breakouts per week instead of the 5-10 I was dealing with before."
3. The Best Multi-Light Therapy Device
If you're hoping to treat several skin concerns at once, the Luma LED light machine is the handheld device for you. It offers blue, green, and red LED light therapy, plus two other modes of skin-treating technology to choose from: facial massage, which works to improve muscle tone, and ionic channeling, which allows you to deep clean your face or thoroughly moisturize it (you'll just need to use your own cleansers and creams). While it doesn't state whether this is specifically approved by the FDA, the brand claims the device uses only FDA-cleared technology. This pick also comes with a travel pouch (which one reviewer noted also came with safety goggles), a charging cable, and an outlet adapter.
A helpful review: "I love this product! After only one week of using the blue light my facial redness and deep cystic acne has improved more than it has in years using anything and everything from all natural products to prescription strength acne products. [...] Great product highly recommend!"
Also Consider: An LED Light Therapy Mask
If handheld devices are literally too hands-on for you, or you want to treat your entire face at once, this FDA-approved LED face mask is a stellar option. It uses blue, green, and red light, and features a built-in timer for safety. It promises to work for all skin types, and it even comes with 10 levels so you can choose the intensity of your treatments. It's 100% UV-free as well, and this pick has been engineered with the goal of evenly treating every bit of your face at one time.
A helpful review: “I have been using it for a month. I like how easy and effective the device works. I usually put a layer of serum or sleeping mask on then wear the mask for 20 minutes. I’m using level 2 right now. I can see that my complexion is healthier and skin tone is more even. I’ll continue to use it."
Michele Green, board-certified dermatologist at Michele Green Cosmetic Dermatology